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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 18:24 GMT
MSPs agree election control move
Ballot papers, May 2007
Thousands of ballot papers were spoilt in the May elections
MSPs have agreed a deal arguing that the day-to-day running of Scottish Parliament elections should be shifted from Westminster to Holyrood.

The Scottish Parliament also supported holding council and Holyrood elections on different days.

The call came after last year's election fiasco, which was dogged by delays and saw about 140,000 ballot papers rejected.

An expert report later made a series of recommendations for improvements.

Following a debate at Holyrood, Scottish ministers accepted a Labour amendment which watered down their demand that complete control should be ceded to Holyrood.

The answer is not to continuously tinker with a system that is basically flawed
Iain Smith
Scottish Liberal Democrats

After the Holyrood and local government elections, the Electoral Commission-sanctioned inquiry, headed by independent expert Ron Gould, said voters were "treated as an afterthought".

He said there should be separate election days for Holyrood and local councils and that future elections should consider the voter above all else.

Bruce Crawford, minister for parliament, said a handover of responsibility had not yet been "seriously" discussed.

"So far the UK Government has not identified the serious structural problems that Gould has identified, never mind the logical way forward he has described," he said.

"Instead it has declared itself unconvinced."

'Bogus' argument

However, Labour's Andy Kerr said Holyrood was responsible for some of the "key decisions", such as the combined ballot paper, that led to the election problems.

"To somehow blame other parliaments for the situation we found ourselves in, when decisions were taken through this Parliament, by whatever way and whatever means, clearly puts in doubt the approach that is being taken currently by the SNP on this matter," he told MSPs.

Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie said holding the Holyrood and council elections on the same day was "the biggest folly" behind the polls fiasco.

"The Scottish Conservatives firmly believe this decoupling will increase local government accountability," she said.

But the Liberal Democrats' Iain Smith said the Conservatives' argument was "bogus", as he made the case for using the single transferable vote in Holyrood elections.

He went on: "The answer is not to continuously tinker with a system that is basically flawed but to change it to a system that the voter has shown they can understand."

SEE ALSO
How MSPs voted in the parliament
20 Dec 07 |  Scotland
Elections watchdog backs reforms
29 Nov 07 |  Scotland
Election 'buck stopped nowhere'
21 Nov 07 |  Scotland
MPs begin election fiasco inquiry
12 Nov 07 |  Scotland
'I didn't nobble election expert'
28 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Alexander makes election apology
24 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Probe says May poll failed voters
23 Oct 07 |  Scotland

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